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Analysis of US Fracturing-Fluids Trends

Offers Insight Into Changes Over Time

A n analysis of thousands of
fracturing treatments in major
plays in the United States provides
data sheet contains detailed information
about every additive injected downhole
during the hydraulic fracturing, includ-
to the third quarter of 2012. In the same
time period, hybrid fracs increased from
33 to 40% of all hydraulic-fracturing
insights into how fracture designs have ing trade name, purpose, supplier, ingre- treatments (Fig. 2).
changed over time. All available data dients, chemical abstract service num- Water consumption during hydrau-
from FracFocus.org were collected, and ber, maximum ingredient concentration lic-fracturing treatments has also ex-
each fracture treatment was classified in additive, and maximum ingredient hibited clear trends since early 2011.
into a set of standard hydraulic- concentration in hydraulic-fracturing The average volume of water consumed
fracturing-treatment types. This analysis fluid (Fig. 1). See Table 1 for the sys- as part of a hydraulic-fracturing treat-
of changes identifies changes over time tem developed to characterize hydraulic-­ ment decreased by 11% from the first
in fracture type on the basis of seven fracturing treatments. quarter of 2011 to the third quarter of
broad categories—conventional, water 2012, from 63,382 to 56,537 bbl. The
frac, hybrid, energized, acid frac, gas Analysis of Aggregate US decrease in average water consump-
frac, and matrix acidizing. Fracturing-Fluid-System Trends tion is primarily because of a shift away
Aggregate fracture trends in the US had from ­water-frac technology toward con-
shifted dramatically in the 18 months ventional- and ­hybrid-frac technology.
Introduction before this paper was written. Drilling During the same time period, average
FracFocus.org was launched in early 2011 and completion activity shifted quick- water volume consumed during hybrid-
to serve as the US national hydraulic-­ ly from a heavy focus on gas plays to oil frac treatments decreased by 22%, from
fracturing chemical registry. The registry and liquids-rich plays. In the first week 81,324 to 63,802  bbl. In contrast, av-
is managed by the Groundwater Protec- of 2011, 54% of all active land rigs oper- erage water volume consumed during
tion Council and the Interstate Oil and ating in the US were targeting gas, com- water fracs increased by 26% from the
Gas Compact Commission to provide the pared with only 24% in the last week of first quarter of 2011 to the third quarter
public with access to reported chemicals the third quarter of 2012, a decline of of 2012, from 68,710 to 86,858 bbl. Al-
used for hydraulic fracturing within their more than 50%. though the shift in average water con-
area. When this paper was written, near- At the US aggregate level, fracture- sumption is driven mostly by the shift
ly 26,000 wells had been reported on type trends very closely reflect the shift away from water fracs, there are also
the website. from gas- to oil-focused drilling and com- distinct shifts in consumption occurring
Although the FracFocus website was pletion activity. In the first quarter of within each fracture type.
developed with the intention of disclos- 2011, water fracs represented 46% of all These shifts in fracturing-fluid-­
ing to the public the chemicals inject- hydraulic-fracturing treatments under- system trends are likely the result of op-
ed downhole within a given area, the taken in the US. By the third quarter of erators gaining a better understanding
chemical-disclosure data sheets con- 2012, water fracs represented only 24% of the drivers behind production and
tain a wealth of technical data about of hydraulic-fracturing treatments, a de- of the cost to complete wells in the un-
­hydraulic-fracturing-fluid systems. crease of nearly 50%. This decrease was conventional plays being targeted. There
Every FracFocus chemical-­disclosure roughly proportional to the fall in the gas are major differences in the type and
data sheet contains basic information rig count over the same time period. In volume of chemicals used in different
about the well that was fractured, includ- contrast, conventional fracs increased ­fracturing-fluid technologies and the vol-
ing date, latitude/longitude, true vertical from 19 to 34% of all hydraulic-­fracturing ume of water required. These differenc-
depth, and water volume. In addition, the treatments from the first quarter of 2011 es, along with the use of a sleeve tech-
nology instead of a perforate-and-plug
approach, have a major effect on the use
This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights
of additives across all plays.
of paper SPE 163875, “Analysis of US Hydraulic-Fracturing-Fluid-System Trends,” by
Christopher Robart, SPE, PacWest Consulting Partners, Michael Ruegamer, SPE, Analysis of Regional
Kingsfield Consulting, and Alex Yang, PacWest Consulting Partners, prepared for the Fracturing-Fluid-System Trends
2013 SPE Hydraulic Fracturing Technology Conference, The Woodlands, Texas, USA, Denver-Julesburg (DJ) Basin. There has
4–6 February. The paper has not been peer reviewed. been a dramatic shift in fracture design

For a limited time, the complete paper is free to SPE members at www.spe.org/jpt.

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Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Product Component Information Disclosure
Fracture Date 9/21/2011
State: Wyoming * Total Water Volume sources may include fresh water, produced water, or recycled water.
County: Sweetwater ** Information is based on the maximum potential for concentration and thus the total may be
API Number: 49-037-28573 more than 100%.
All component information listed was obtained from the supplier’s material safety data sheets
Operator Name: BP America
(MSDS). As such, the operator is not responsible for inaccurate or incomplete information. The
Well Name and Number: Frewen 31-120 Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) regulations govern the criteria for the
Longitude: –108.042901 disclosure of this information. Please note that federal law protects proprietary, trade secret, and
Latitude: 41.666038 confidential business information, and the criteria for how this information is reported on an
Long/Lat Projection: NAD27 MSDS is subject to 29 CFR 1910.1200(i) and Appendix D.
Production Type: Gas
True Vertical Depth (TVD): 9,936
Total Water Volume (gal)*: 235,923
Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition:
Maximum Maximum
Ingredient Ingredient
Chemical Abstract Concentration Concentration
Service Number in Additive in HF Fluid
Trade Name Supplier Purpose Ingredients (CAS #) (% by mass)** (% by mass)** Comments
Water BP America Carrier / Base Fluid No MSDS ingredients 7732-18-5 100% 83.09506%
Sand (Proppant) Schlumberger Proppant Crystalline silica 14808-60-7 100% 16.12166%
B145 Schlumberger Friction Reducer Distillates (petroleum), hydrotreated light 64742-47-8 40% 0.00666%
Alcohol ethoxylate C-10/16 with 6.5 EO 68002-97-1 5% 0.00083%
W054 Schlumberger Non-Emulsifying Agent Methanol 67-56-1 70% 0.05065%
Oxyalkylated alkyl alcohol (1) Proprietary 10% 0.00724%
Oxyalkylated alcohol (2) Proprietary 10% 0.00724%
Quatemary ammonium compound Proprietary 5% 0.00362%
Heavy aromatic naphtha 64742-94-5 5% 0.00362%
Oxyalkylated alcohol (1) Proprietary 5% 0.00362%
B354 Schlumberger Temporary Clay Cholinium Chloride 67-48-1 70% 0.12840%
J218 Schlumberger Breaker Diammonium Peroxidisulphate 7727-54-0 100% 0.00211%
EZEFLO F110 Schlumberger Surfactant Methanol 67-56-1 40% 0.02165%
Ethoxylated alcohols Proprietary 30% 0.01624%
Ethoxylated alcohols #2 Proprietary 30% 0.01624%
EB-CLEAN B368 / Schlumberger Breaker Diammonium peroxidisulphate 7727-54-0 100% 0.00622%
L010 Schlumberger X-Linker Boric Acid / Sodium Hydroxide 10043-35-3 / 1310-73-2 100% 0.03547%
M007 Schlumberger Activator Sodium hydroxide 1310-73-2 60% 0.04842%
M298L Baker Biocide Tetrakis (hydroxymethyl) Phosphonium 55566-30-8 100% 0.00820%
Hughes Sulfate
J511 Schlumberger Stabilizer/Delay Agent Aliphatic Polyol Proprietary 100% 0.14328%
J580 Schlumberger Water Jelling Agent Carbohydrate Polymer Proprietary 100% 0.18072%

Fig. 1—Example of a FracFocus.org chemical-disclosure data sheet. HF=hydraulic fracturing.


Primary Fracturing Type Definition

Treatment type that uses a gelling agent and one or more crosslinkers to transport proppant into a
hydraulic fracture
Treatment type that uses a friction reducer, a gelling agent, or a viscoelastic surfactant to transport
Water Frac
proppant into a hydraulic fracture
Treatment type that uses a combination of a friction reducer, a gelling agent, an acid-gelling agent or
one or more crosslinkers to transport proppant into a hydraulic fracture
Treatment type that incorporates an energizer, normally nitrogen or carbon dioxide, into the base fluid to
generate foam that transports proppant into a hydraulic fracture
Treatment type that uses a gelled-acid base fluid to etch away formation rock and transport proppant into
Acid Frac
a hydraulic fracture
Treatment type that uses a gas, normally propane, as a base fluid to transport proppant into a hydraulic
Gas Frac
Matrix Acidizing Treatment type that uses acid to etch away formation rock to increase the productivity of an oil or gas well

in the DJ basin. An analysis of all comple- 27 to 79% in the same time period. The creased from 95% in January 2012 to
tion activity reveals that the percentage majority of fracturing treatments in the 70% in August 2012. Reproducing the
of water fracs has dropped from 68% DJ basin are small, (defined as less than analysis across small fracturing jobs, the
in the first quarter of 2011 to 12% in the 16,500 bbl of water for the purposes percentage of water fracs has decreased
third quarter of 2012, while the percent- of this paper), though the percentage from 72% in the first quarter of 2011 to
age of hybrid fracs has increased from of small fracturing treatments has de- 17% in the third quarter of 2012, while

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100% 2% 2%
2% 3% 3% 3% 2%

27% 26% 24%
80% 33% 30%

29% 32% 34%
50% 27%
40% 19%


20% 38% 41% 40% 40%

35% 37%

11Q1 11Q2 11Q3 11Q4 12Q1 12Q2 12Q3
Acid Frac Matrix Acidizing Energized Water Frac Convenonal Hybrid Oil Rigs (% of Total)

Fig. 2—US aggregate fracture types (% of total wells) vs. oil rig count (% of total rigs). The analysis includes hydraulic-
fracturing-treatment data from 25,209 wells executed between 1 January 2011 and 30 September 2012. Because their
fracture type was classified as unknown, 1,671 wells were excluded from the analysis.

hybrid fracs have increased from 25 to generally consumed similar volumes of third quarter of 2012, compared with
76% in the same time period. water, typically between 40,000 and slightly more than 50,000 bbl in the ag-
There has been a dramatic decline in 50,000 bbl. However, with the appear- gregate US in the same time period.
the use of clay-control additives in the DJ ance of water fracs in early 2012, average Eagle Ford fracturing fluids have
basin, declining from 88% of wells in the fracturing-treatment size in the Bakken also seen a decline in specialty chemi-
first quarter of 2011 to less than 48% of has increased from 45,540 bbl in the first cals. The use of clay-control agents de-
wells in the second quarter of 2012. The quarter of 2011 to 57,817 bbl in the third creased from 62% of wells in the first
use of surfactant has also declined, but quarter of 2012. quarter of 2011 to 35% of wells in the
less severely, from 96 to 85% over the The use of clay-control agents in the second quarter of 2012. Surfactant usage
same time period, with most of the de- Bakken increased from 25% in the first has seen a similar, though less dramatic,
crease appearing during the first and sec- quarter of 2011 to 37% in the second decline—from 60 to 42% of wells in the
ond quarter of 2012. quarter of 2012. Surfactant usage decreas- same period. The use of both decreased
ed from 71 to 45% in the same period. consistently until 2012, at which point
Bakken. The most significant trend in usage plateaued.
fracture design in the Bakken has been Eagle Ford. Hybrid fracs are the pre-
an increase in the proportion of hybrid dominant fracture technology in the Conclusions
fracs, at the expense of conventional Eagle Ford, averaging roughly 65% for The analysis of thousands of fracturing
fracs. The proportion of conventional the second half of 2011 and for the part treatments in the major unconventional
fracs decreased from 90% of wells in of 2012 for which data are available. plays in the United States provides mean-
the first quarter of 2011 to 55% of wells However, it is important to note that, ingful insights into how fracturing-fluid-
in the third quarter of 2012 (among large from January 2011 to June 2011, the pro- system trends have changed across time.
fracturing treatments, defined as great- portion of hybrid fracs pumped in the Aggregate fracturing trends in the Unit-
er than or equal to 16,500 bbl of water Eagle Ford decreased from 83% of all ed States have shifted dramatically in the
for the purpose of this paper), with most wells to 63% of all wells, a dramatic shift last 18 months.
of the decrease taking place in the third in fracture design. The remaining frac- Drilling and completion activity has
quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of ture activity is split between water fracs shifted quickly from a heavy focus on
2012. A second trend worth noting is the and conventional fracs, with a nearly gas plays to oil and liquids-rich plays.
appearance of water fracs beginning in equal proportion of each pumped in the This paper shows that this trend can
March 2012, increasing to 9% of total second and third quarters of 2012. also be seen in the use of different frac-
wells in the Bakken in the second quar- Eagle Ford hydraulic-fracturing turing-fluid technologies: The use of
ter of 2012. treatments are generally larger than ­hybrid- and conventional-frac technol-
Except for a few hybrid jobs in the those undertaken in most other plays, ogy has increased significantly over the
first quarter of 2011, hybrid and con- with the average treatment averaging last 18 months at the expense of water-
ventional treatments in the Bakken have more than 100,000 bbl of water in the frac technology. JPT

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